Perugia is a town in the Umbria region of Italy, about 150 km southeast of Florence. A few weeks ago, we saw an advertisement online for Eurochocolate, an international chocolate festival. Because I figure you have to be crazy not to like chocolate (sorry mom!), it was an easy decision to make the trek. Also, Perugia has some personal history with Bobby’s family. Bobby’s mom, Terri, lived in Perugia and Bobby’s brother, Jim, was born there. Perugia ended up being a beautiful city and much bigger than we expected. It is our favorite trip we’ve taken in Italy so far. Here are some shots around town:
These next photos show interesting layers of medieval Perugia. The city has not just preserved this historic area but has turned it into a kind of working museum by running a system of escalators through the underground, linking old and new parts of the city. To use these escalators, visitors and residents must cut through the remains of a medieval neighborhood which was razed to construct the Rocca Paolina, once a fortress in Perugia more than 500 years ago. The underground city is an extraordinary sight, with vaulted brick ceilings that have been constructed over medieval streets, houses, and churches in a neighborhood once controlled by the Baglioni family.
Eurochocolate, the festival that drew us to Perugia to begin with, certainly was chocolate-y. This festival brings in up to a million people each year. CRAZY! The festival includes tasting, chocolate vendors, demonstrations, and chocolate sculptures. I really wanted to see the chocolate sculptures, but much to my dismay, they aren’t being erected until tomorrow so we’re told (Sunday the 16th.) Booo! We did, however, eat lots of chocolate in the first hour we were there, had a sugar crash, and decided to visit some other sites around Perugia!
Bobby’s mother often raved about Italy’s famous Italian ceramics from a town called Deruta. Fortunately, Deruta is right by Perugia and there were vendors selling the beautiful ceramics during Eurochocolate. From Deruta’s website, the studio has “almost 800 years of uninterrupted history. Our ceramists have ceramics in their DNA; creating beautiful works of art is almost second-nature. The nearly twenty skilled people in our studio produce extraordinary and varied items, from large pieces for interior design such as ceramic tile panels for bathrooms and kitchen back splashes, garden tables, fireplaces and large urns, to mirrors, cabinet knobs, and unique pieces for passionate collectors.” Here are some of the displays in Perugia and a couple of purchases Bobby and I made:
Because we were all chocolate-d out, we visited the Cathedral of San Lorenzo. The cathedral dates back to the 1340s and the external facade decoration (much like Cathedral in Arezzo) in white and pink marble was never completed. Outside of the cathedral, there is a statue of Pope Julius III, a hero to Perugia for having restored the local magistrate, which had been suppressed by Paul III. The interior nave of San Lorenzo is 68 m in length, with a nave and two aisles of the same height; the nave is twice as wide as the aisles. Although we have seen many churches already in Italy, we are still amazed at the beauty of the detail in the ceiling and stained glass.
Lastly, because we knew that Perugia was a major archeological site, we quickly (we only had an hour until our train left!) went to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale. Many of the pieces date from 3rd century BC – 2nd century AD. Although many of the works were put behind glass cases (naturally) and didn’t lend themselves to great photo opportunities, here are a few of the highlights: